Very Bad Vibes is Sam Huntington’s new musical project, formed after the disbandment of The Original Crooks and Nannies — the massively underappreciated Philadelphia duo that produced two albums bubbling with sickly sweet earworms (“Real groovy, like a sci-fi movie / Real dumb, dumb—like a / low-budget rom com” goes one of the duo’s typical hooks). Very Bad Vibes brings along the synth overload that defined The Original Crooks and Nannies‘ sound. Synthesizers gain an even more prominent place in Very Bad Vibes’ debut album ‘Toothpaste’, perhaps owing to the fact that Huntington engineered and produced the album himself.
Debut single ‘Sobering Up’ perfects the twee synth pop clash found throughout the album. The song begins with what sounds like a wailing siren or alarm before a jaunty drum beat drops, at which point the siren synth begins to stutter melodically. “I may be lazy”, Huntington stammers, his voice starting and stopping like a buffering video or dropped call. A gruff guitar riff guides the verses, where Huntington cycles through memories—seemingly about a now-distant friend or ex-lover. But it’s the chorus that really soars and makes the song glimmer with the same tragically-cutesy sheen of The Original Crooks and Nannies: “I may be lazy / Ba… But baby / Please don’t wake me up / I stayed awake but later learned / I’d rather be / Out of touch”.
‘Sobering Up’ makes for a perfect soundtrack for those of us who prefer a slightly out of touch lifestyle. In an interview with Vents Magazine, Huntington shared his own sense of social isolation and privacy, saying that it takes him a long time to consider someone an actual “friend”. That sentiment gets expressed beautifully on ‘Sobering Up’, its lyrics seeming like something the speaker couldn’t say in real life — a shy-boy’s lyrical address to a distant “you.” Luckily, however, Very Bad Vibes allows listeners quick access to Huntington’s quirky, kitsch world. ‘Toothpaste’ and ‘Sobering Up’ make fast friends of the singer and his audience, an immediate intimacy owing itself to the 21-year-old’s lucid power of description — a power at once beyond his years and completely of his generation.